February 4, 2023, is twenty-one years after my mother’s passing. Every year feels different for me when my mother’s anniversary cycles through, but this year has felt especially different for me than in the last few years. I have been feeling a lot more balanced in my life, in general, since creating my own nature based leadership academy, and this year I was not afraid of the pain and grief that usually comes my way in February. I think it is because I have more space to feel and process, instead of being in overwhelm.
With the extra space this year, I made a plan. I cleared my calendar in the afternoons leading up to the 4th and for my entire weekend. My plan was to just be. Honor my mother, my feelings, and my journey. I set aside five days to feel deeply, cry when I needed to, and then move forward again. In the past I have not always been as kind to myself, forcing myself to juggle work, and life, and sometimes not fully acknowledging the feelings my mother’s anniversary brings. This year my plan was to welcome the grief home for its yearly visit.
But then, my week got busy. Things came up. Students needed supporting, my family needed supporting, and I made time to be there for them. I was not able to perfectly execute my grief plan of just being, and I felt disappointed in myself. This was supposed to be my year of getting it “right.” I was sitting and feeling sorry for myself on my mom’s bench because of my poor execution, and then I had a moment of self realization. I am strong and balanced enough this year to feel grief while supporting myself and others. I don’t think I could have done this in the past.
I realized that with my grief plan, I wasn’t honoring my feelings, I was trying to control them. I figured if I made a plan, and stuck to it, I could get an A in grief. This made my therapist laugh. She gently reminded me that feelings can’t be controlled and I didn’t need to judge myself for it.
So today, when I gave up the control, and threw the plan away, I could feel the growth in my soul. I had space to create this beautiful flower mandala at my mother’s bench. I am grateful that my dad and my husband were able to be there with me as well. I miss my mom, and today she showed me the meaning of giving up to gain. When you release control, and let yourself be, you gain peace.